I was wrong about Google and Facebook: there’s nothing wrong with them (so say we all)


It’s always difficult admitting you’re wrong. But sometimes you have to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, today, I admit that I was wrong about Google, Facebook, & surveillance capitalism in general being toxic for our human rights and democracy … it simply cannot be true given how they are endorsed by some of the most well-respected organisations in the world.

@aral I have serious criticisms of Google and Facebook myself. However, I don't agree with your criticism of Conservancy/Copyleft Conf. Conservancy has actually lost a lot of money over the years because it has stuck to its principles when sponsors preferred that it do something different (eg drop copyleft enforcement). That's one reason they started doing community fundraising drives, because they wouldn't have had the money to keep going otherwise *because* they stuck to their principles.

@aral I certainly agree with criticisms of surveillance capitalist organizations. However there is another problem: the commons is frequently exploited by large corporations that take and take and take from FOSS and don't give back.

If a company is willing to give some money to support free software orgs, no strings attached other than their name appearing on the site, I think that's something we should encourage *more* of. Many companies are taking and not giving, and that sucks.

@aral I do agree that much FOSS *software* is working too hard to bend over backwards for proprietary software integration where decentralized tech integration should be preferred and prioritized however.

@cwebber @aral

I have long advocated a middle-ground here:

**Whenever you compromise your values, APOLOGIZE for it**

Instead of insisting on absolute purity, we can accept that real-world trade-offs happen. But don't present it as normal business, ASK to be excused and explain the situation.

In this case, SFC etc. should have some qualifier every place they reference the Google or Microsoft sponsorships. Something like an *acknowledgement* that this is a compromise and link to a statement.

@wolftune @cwebber @aral

They can't say that.

It's like saying: sorry, we are organizing a conference on #copyleft with the worst enemy of copyleft out there, but hey this is not #marketing, this is serious stuff and you can trust we will be serious about exploring all the ways we can change copyleft to maximize #FreeSoftware, even if they don't want we to.

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

They can totally say something like: "We acknowledge that many practices of these companies go against the goals of Copyleft, and we recognize the concerns people have about the conflicts in our accepting their support as sponsors of our conference." and link to a longer statement about why they still felt the compromise was still the right decision.

I'm not asking anyone to deny anything. It's totally feasible to *admit* and *explain* when we make compromises.


if they feel their decision is the right call, why should they have to apologise?
Maybe instead just note that they are happy to compromise on their core issue and thus should not be trusted to defend this core issue?

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

@oshwm @Shamar @cwebber @aral


There is *nothing* about apologizing that implies an action is *necessarily* the wrong decision. There are TONS of cases in life in which the right decision involves a compromise *and* an apology, which means an explanation, a justification, and an acknowledgement of the problems and harms the compromise involves.

You have no basis to assume that anyone compromising is "happy" to compromise. That's a condescending way to think.


When you are compromising to such an extent on your Core Issue, your very reason for being then surely you would be better off cancelling the event with as much publicity as possible and stating that you cannot raise the funds to stage the event in an honest way.

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

@oshwm @wolftune @cwebber @aral

This is not going to happen.

The #fediverse doesn’t have such powe.

Even if the whole Fediverse boosted that #FreeSoftware cannot get #Google money and preserve #freedom, that would not go mainstram.

OTOH @conservancy cancelling #CopyleftConf because THEY recognise Google would inhibit #FreeSpeech would shake Free Software from the fundaments.

It's naive to hope for this.


@Shamar @oshwm @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy Yeah, not going to happen. Richard told me he isn’t going to pull FSF sponsorship from the event or criticise them for it either as he doesn’t want to anger them (Conservancy).


Mr Stallman doesn't appear to have as strongly held views as he would like everyone to think.


@Shamar @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy


Folks should bear in mind that RMS is mostly playing a necessary role when in public.

And I'm not just talking about Saint iGNUcius.

@cwebber @Shamar @conservancy @aral @wolftune @oshwm

@oshwm @aral @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy

Tbh I think it's not a matter of #money, for #RMS.

In a way he might even agree with Google on the kinds of upper bounds to put on #copyleft.

He doesn't think everyone can program and should be taught to, so he doesn't really work for the core #freedom of #FreeSoftware (study and modify) to be for everybody, but for engineers (and #Google is full of engineers!)


Your description of RMS is quite off by my view (and I've heard him speak multiple times, had several conversations personally and read all his work).

RMS doesn't have the absurd idea that software-freedom should be *exclusive* to programmers or that all people *must* be programmers, but he absolutely wants everyone to have the capacity to use those freedoms if they wish or to find friends or hire programmers etc.

RMS wants freedom for engineers and not all? No, that's plain wrong.


I'm sorry if I came out excessively harsh.

I don't think RMS is an elitist that want to sell as freedom the power for programmers.

He is simply the son of his country and epoch.

But the point is that what you and RMS (in total good faith!) consider "absurd", I see as inevitable.

#Programming is exactly like writing: a precondition to #citizenship.

Pascal, HTML, Python were explorations of this idea that computing should be simple enough to be a method of expression..


...early explorations that were abandoned too early.

Projects like Scratch, IMHO, are somewhat off this goal: they seem more a pursuit for cheap labor than tools to distribute a deep understanding of Informatics (but I might be wrong on this, it's just my impression as a father of a user).

But if you care about #freedom today you wouldn't say that "not everybody should be able to write because nt everyone has a talent for it".
(to paraphrase RMS).


Yet 5000 years ago, mass alphabetization would have been considered "absurd" by Egyptians given the effort required to learn how to write.

Fortunately we can all write today, and if I told you: "don't teach your kids to write, they will find someone they trust to write and read for them" you would find THAT absurd.

So to me, #RMS is plain wrong on this.

He is "moderate" but in good faith.
Yet he is (slighly) missing the point of #FreeSoftware (that #Google got plenty).

@Shamar Clarification: RMS and I do not hold the same views (I *only* referred earlier to his views). But I believe we share your view that programming *should* be taught far and wide. Free software enables anyone because tweaking an existing program is much more trivial than writing a whole new one.

Check out video at gnu.org/education/ — that is not a perspective of someone who thinks programming is only for some people.

RMS promotes general code literacy; you're attacking a straw RMS.


I'm not attacking him, and I'm happy if he agree with me on this!

But those words were from an interview he gave (and I saw similar arguments before, and I used to agree until I realised the implications): newleftreview.org/II/113/richa
(Search for "talent" in that page)


OTOH, you are not the first to qualify as "absurd" the idea that everyone should be able to write software.

Again, I'm not attacking you in any way: I simply don't agree.

#FreeSoftware enable those who know.
Which is great!

Without Stallman there wouldn't be #Debian and without Debian I wouldn't know #Linux (and I wouldn't be a programmer either).
RMS and GNU made me possible! ;-)

But we need to move on: not just enable, but #innovate towards #simplicity and #teach.


"Everyone should be able to write software" — not absurd

"Free Software only applies to those able to write software" — wrong

What's absurd is any suggestion that most people be more than novice programmers. A basic functional literacy might make sense. Just like everyone should know how to draw or to sing or to do basic scientific-style critical thinking… but we're still going to have most important programming (and most drawing and most science etc) done by a portion of people.


I live in a zone of Piedmont (Italy) which has been declared as a patrimony of humanity from UNESCO.

Each hill provides an unique perspective and moving a couple of meters can really change your whole perspective.

From where I look, I see things differently.
We will always have great programmers that everyone want to read and execute on their own hardware, but the difference from an average programmer will be similar to that between a novelist and a secretary: not much.

@aral @oshwm @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy

I won't tell you that I told you but... oh wait! :-D

I'm just surprised that #RMS didn't saw this coming: he is very smart and focused on free software, he invented #copyleft and spread it...

Maybe he is just too moderate, after all.

He is transparent that he would work with the #Devil to spread #FreeSoftware in #Hell, so #surveillance is not a big issue.. ;-)

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